Government ads promoting Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017 already on the air

The Harper government has launched a $4-million national ad campaign celebrating the fathers of Confederation and a country that has become “strong, proud and free” more than two years in advance of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

OTTAWA — The Harper government has launched a $4-million national ad campaign celebrating the fathers of Confederation and a country that has become “strong, proud and free” more than two years in advance of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

The national ad buy, which began airing last month, is part of some $7.2 million allotted to the Heritage department this year to promote the government’s “Canada 150” campaign.

A spokesman for Heritage Minister Shelley Glover says it is important to remind Canadians of earlier milestones on the road to Confederation, notably the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences of 1864.

But NDP critic Mathieu Ravignat says the size of the government ad budget — this far in advance of the 2017 anniversary — smacks of pre-election positioning by a Conservative government that he says has a history of using public ad funds for partisan purposes.

The $7-million “Canada 150” ad budget makes it one of the larger campaigns in the Conservative government’s $60 million advertising portfolio for 2014.

The government has also committed $10 million to advertising its annual “economic action plan,” $8 million to promote its “better jobs” program, $5 million promoting services for veterans and $5.5 million to combat illicit drug use — a campaign that has been criticized as a partisan attack on a Liberal pledge to legalize marijuana.

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